October 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the moment that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany thus sparking the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation 500 Anniversary Album, Martin Luther Celebration of Spirit -1517-2017. was written to honor and commemorate the religious, social, political, intellectual, and musical contributions of Martin Luther.
Rachel Currea, a Miami based composer, pianist, conductor, and recording artist of solo piano and sacred vocal music, was commissioned by Leonard Sweet, best-selling Christian author (Billion Soul Network) to write a Reformation Hymn and perform it in Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany as part of the 500th Anniversary celebration. While writing, Currea felt inspired to rework some of Martin Luther’s other hymns and set them to a new, more modern melody and arrangement.
The selections from the 16th century capture the character of sacred music at the time of change, and how Luther conceived of singing that would engage worshippers in the experience. The contemporary compositions reflect the modern church experience of today’s music worship.
“The texts of Martin Luther were adapted and set to music that reflects the nearly 500 years old rich hymnal tradition, while offering a new and modern melodic spirit,” said Currea, “styles featured on the album range from a contemporary/traditional blend to classical with just enough pop for universal acceptance, and straightforward hymns, a cappella choir, high Anglican, and Renaissance motets from Luther’s day.”
One of the tracks is a first worldwide release of “the lost Luther motet”, In pace in idipsum, discovered by scholar Ole Kongsted in 2000. Other tracks include Billboard charting 13 year old soprano, Sarah Copus, sharing her angelic voice on the first track to Currea’s arrangement of Luther’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, Our Father, Thou in Heaven Above; the award winning composition, Hymn to the Holy Spirit, by Currea, text by Byzantine monk, Symeon the New Theologian, featuring choir and orchestra, with soloist, Megan Barrera.
The choir on the album consists of Miami-based volunteer and professional singers, choral directors, high school and college students who were united by a joy of singing, a curiosity and passion for music and a longing for community.
The album release will be followed by a premiere of the Reformation Hymn by Rachel Currea for a service in Castle Church, Wittenberg, Germany during the celebration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, November 1st, 2017.